Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Aaron Donald should head 'Top 100'

We name names.

Here they are -- in alphabetical order -- as voted on by the NFL players themselves: The final 10 guys who will be revealed in NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2018" ...

Yep, the gatekeepers over at NFL Network provided me with a little advanced notice on those 10 names. They're official. That's the premium class of this year's list -- again, presented in alphabetical order.

So, how do those players stack up against each other? What are the actual rankings in the countdown? Who will be crowned as the No. 1 player in 2018?

Well, folks, I only have so much pull ... For those answers, you'll have to tune into NFL Network on Monday night at 8 p.m. ET for the season finale. This, in the industry, is what we call a tease. But this column isn't a total tease. I still have something to say!

How would I personally arrange the 10 names listed above? Well, it's a pretty special group. Not the exact 10 I would've picked, but I can dig. Here is my ranking of the 10 guys voted into the top 10 by the players themselves:

10) Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Finally freed from Jeff Fisher's inept brand of offense -- one that the running back himself called "a middle school offense" -- Todd Gurley was back to being Todd Gurley in 2017. And it was amazing. The do-it-all back was fantastic in Year 1 under Sean McVay; a speeding bull who was impossible to take down. Gurley's domination took the pressure off Jared Goff, allowing the 2016 No. 1 overall pick to enjoy a breakthrough sophomore campaign.

Gurley led the NFL in rushing touchdowns (13) and finished second in rushing yards (1,327), averaging a robust 4.7 yards a pop. And he was a safety valve for Goff in the passing game, catching 64 balls for 788 yards and six more scores. He had a superb year. And with the brilliant McVay running the show, this will be the norm.

9) Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Bell's numbers -- third in the league in rushing yards (1,291), 10th in receptions (88), 1,946 total yards -- were impressive, per usual. But they're even more so when you remember that Bell didn't sign his franchise tag until Labor Day -- and he didn't get his requisite touches to start the year as a result.

Bell's patient and powerful running style is truly something to behold. And in this era of multi-purpose backs, the Steelers' 6-foot-1, 225-pound Swiss Army Knife is quite a weapon. Now, if he would just stay off Twitter before playoff games ...

8) Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

This cat is a star. His hands, separation skills and playmaking ability are all extraordinary. There's no arguing that Brown is on a Hall of Fame track, as a model of consistency and pure domination. Over the past five seasons, the 5-10 receiver has averaged the following numbers: 116 catches for 1,570 yards (101.9 yards per game) and 10 touchdowns. No wonder he's been named first-team All-Pro in each of the past four years, establishing himself as a legitimate MVP candidate -- at wide receiver!

Need more proof that scouting is an inexact science? Brown wasn't taken until the back half of the sixth round in the 2010 NFL Draft -- the 22nd(!) receiver off the board.

7) Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos

Miller is a special kind of freak. Bending the edge with otherworldly speed and dexterity, he's a nightmare for quarterbacks, offensive linemen, offensive coordinators and everyone else involved with NFL passing games. In seven pro seasons, Miller has been to the Pro Bowl six times, racking up Defensive Rookie of the Year and Super Bowl MVP honors along the way.

In theory, 2017 was a "down year," as Von only sacked the quarterback 10 times. Of course, he still led all edge defenders with 83 pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. And now that Denver gave Miller a new pass-rushing playmate in No. 5 overall pick Bradley Chubb? Watch out, league.

6) Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

If scientists went into a lab to create the perfect receiver, they'd come out with Julio Jones. His athleticism, size, strength and hands are ridiculous. This is the prototype at the position.

OK, so he only had three touchdown catches last season. Well, for one thing, the Falcons' offense didn't exactly sizzle in 2017, with Steve Sarkisian taking the reins from Kyle Shanahan. Things should run more smoothly in Sarkisian's second year at the helm. (Can we give No. 11 some freakin' red-zone targets? Please??) Here's another thing: Jones still eclipsed 1,400 yards ... for the fourth straight season. He's just the second player in NFL history to accomplish that, following in the footsteps of Marvin Harrison. So let's not pretend the year was lackluster just because of the touchdown total.

5) Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

This future first-ballot Hall of Famer is the Energizer Bunny: He keeps going and going and going at a legendary pace.

While his yardage total was down last year (4,334 -- Brees' lowest mark since his last year with the Chargers), it certainly wasn't due to a lack of efficiency: Brees set a single-season record by completing a whopping 72 percent of his passes. No, Sean Payton just focused more on establishing his ground game, with Alvin Kamara bursting on the scene and Mark Ingram enjoying his best NFL season. And this is great: It makes Brees even better. Pretty remarkable, considering the guy's 40th birthday is on the horizon.

4) Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

Too high? Too low? Wentz was going to get my Associated Press MVP vote before tearing up his knee in Week 14. He carried the Eagles in the regular season and made everyone better around him. Wentz was the reason Philly had homefield in the postseason. Pretty crucial for the eventual Super Bowl champs, considering they barely snuck by the Falcons in their opening playoff game.

All signs point to Wentz being right on schedule -- if not ahead -- in his rehab. "The arm is alive," tight end Zach Ertz recently said, via the Philly Daily News, "I'll tell you that much." Can't wait for this guy to hit the field again in 2018.

3) Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams

Say it with me:

Aaron Donald is the best, most unstoppable and disruptive defensive player in the NFL.

That's really all you need to know. So, when are the Rams going to treat him that way with a new contract?

2) Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

After Wentz's injury, Brady got my AP MVP vote, having logged another specular season to further put the G.O.A.T. debate to rest. An NFL-best 4,577 yards passing to go along with 32 touchdowns against just eight picks? Not too shabby. And he did it at age 40. Yeah, you better believe Tom Brady is the greatest of all time.

Tom Brady is a living legend. The guy can absolutely keep it going to age 45, if he wants to stick to his Spanish comment on Instagram. If that's not the ultimate 2018 sports sentence, I don't know what is.

1) Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

Don't overthink it. Don't confuse it. Don't talk to me about injuries. This is easy: It's Aaron Rodgers' world and we are just living in it.

Aaron Rodgers is the most talented and best player at the most important position in sports. He carries one of the most storied franchises in American sports. Can't imagine I'm alone in ranking him atop the list of active NFLers. Will the players follow suit on Monday? Tune in!

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content